Nothing is more frustrating than spending hours (or days) seeking out the best price on an airline ticket (or cruise or hotel) only to find that the person next to you on the flight paid significantly less. Sometimes it seems that everyone knows where to find travel bargains except you. For your next vacation, consider the following tips:
- Book early. Contrary to popular opinion, the best travel deals generally go to those travelers who can book early. Most airfares reward travelers who book early with lower airfares and better seat assignments. Cruises, too, operate on a multi-tier system with the best fares going first. Some cruise lines, such as Seabourn, even offer an extra discount for passengers that pay for their trips at least six months in advance.
An added advantage to booking early is that you have the best choice of seats, cruise cabins and hotels. Many travel options, such as cruise cabins with balconies and New York City hotels in December, are simply not available if you wait to make your reservations.
Note: Plan ahead for your trip if you want to save money on other items too. For instance, you can exchange currency online, often for a discount, if you have the time to do so before an international trip.
- If you can't book early, book late. Though the best prices generally go to those who make their travel reservations early, there are some specials for last-minute travelers. Many airlines offer special last-minute Internet airfares via their web sites. These fares are limited to a few select city pairs and are usually offered on Tuesday for travel that same weekend.
Cruises, too, offer last-minute specials for unsold cabins. This usually works best for travelers who live near a port city as last-minute airfare to get to the ship will eat up any possible savings.
- Be flexible. It pays to be somewhat flexible when booking your vacation. Often, traveling a day or two -- or a week -- earlier will net substantial savings. Consider, too, alternate airports. Many cities, such as Detroit/Toledo or Chicago/Milwaukee, have airports within an hour's drive that may offer lower airfares.
- For simple travel arrangements, use online travel resources. In addition to the airline web sites mentioned above, large travel web sites, such as Travelocity and Expedia, are able to offer some attractive hotel and car rental rates because of the size of their business. Priceline and Hotels are also good resources for simple travel arrangements.
- Consider using a travel agent. A good travel professional can be invaluable in saving your travel dollars. Because she works with travel on a daily basis, an agent can be on the lookout for specials to your favorite destination. She also can save you hours of time by researching your options.
No one need spend a fortune on travel. Booking discount travel is easy if you plan ahead, use available resources, and stay flexible.